NEW YORK Louise Erdrich is more than this years winner of the National Book Award for fiction. Shes a bookstore owner and has some ideas for what customers might pick up as holiday gifts.
The four other finalists: This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz; A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers; The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers; and Billy Lynns Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain.
This was a tough crowd! Erdrich, who runs Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, wrote in a recent email about her competition.
Erdrich didnt mention her own novel, The Round House, but another author-bookseller took care of that. Ann Patchett, who founded Parnassus Books in Nashville, says she has been recommending Erdrichs story of a boy seeking his mothers rapist well before the award was announced in mid-November.
I read the book really early on, and Ive thought about it every single day since, Patchett said. Its dark, funny, complex and very, very moving.
Patchett had several other suggestions, from Jon Meachams biography Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a pick she thinks ideal for men; to Maile Maloys The Apothecary for middle schoolers. She also loved J.K. Rowlings first grownup novel, The Casual Vacancy, a feeling she made clear in October when she interviewed the Harry Potter author on stage at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
Erdrich also cited the illustrated edition of Edmund de Waals The Hare With Amber Eyes, writing it feels lustrous in hand, orderly, pleasing. This is what a book should be.
Gayle Shanks, owner of the Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., likes the novel Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter; Deb Perlmans Smitten Kitchen cookbook; and Marcus Samuelssons memoir Yes, Chef.
Barnes & Noble is suggesting works of humor (The Onion Book of Known Knowledge), music (An illustrated Rolling Stones biography to mark the bands 50th anniversary) and history (Reporting the Revolutionary War).
Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, likes Alice Munros story collection Dear Life; Alan Ryans two-volume history On Politics and Louise Gluecks Poems 1962-2012. Kate Milford, a childrens author and McNally Jackson employee, suggests the picture book Cecil, the Pet Glacier, by Matthea Harvey; the middle school novel Twelve Kinds of Ice, by Ellen Bryan Obed and illustrator Barbara McClintock.
This is going to be one of those things adults buy for a kid and end up keeping themselves or giving to other adults, too, Milford says of the Obed book. Its beautifully illustrated, beautifully written, and just feels like a classic gift book.